Sunday 27 August 2017


The third in the series of the EBS-RED (Economic & Business Strategy - Refined Economic Development) quarterly lectures was held in Abuja the 26th of August, 2017. The convener of the series is Dr. Magnus Kpakol, economic and business strategist, who anchors a vintage programme on AIT. He said Nigerians have to be globally competitive in order to raise the standard of living. He has dedicated a larger part of his adult life to exploring ways of engaging young people on strategies for global competitiveness.

For Kpakol, the negative influences that inhibit this competitiveness are:

*Poor policy choices and the nature of fiscal/monetary policies.
*Revenue as a percentage of GDP has shrunk and this implies government has lost considerable leverage in the economy.
*Income has shrunk from $80b to $30b
*Unstable exchange rate/multiple exchange rates/slow rate of economic growth.
*African countries are weak on the global competitive index. Of the 30 countries at the bottom of the index, 24 are in Africa.
*Mechanisms for revving up export to boost the Naira.
*The level of efficiency, productivity and attractiveness of the Nigerian economy.
*Good monetary policies in recent times from the CBN e.g. anchor borrowers' programme/MSME development fund/CBN working with the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
*The Nigerian economy needs to grow to at least 10%.
*Nigerians are exhibiting their frustration with the economy through begging, demonstration, low productivity, etc

The representative of Segun Awolowo, CEO of NEPC, took us through some of the activities of NEPC. NEPC was established 41 years ago, just like the NNPC. The NEPC was set up to develop non-oil exports while the NNPC was to take care of the oil sector. The Dutch disease made us neglect the NEPC and over-concentrate on NNPC. The major areas of involvement for the NEPC are:

*Export development
*Export marketing & market research
*Advising and training on non-oil export issues

There are three major sources of foreign exchange into the Nigerian economy - remittances from friends/relatives, foreign direct investment (FDI) and export earnings. Of these three sources of forex, export earnings are the most sustainable. That is why in NEPC, there is emphasis on the following:

*Capacity building for export, e.g. the zero to export programme/conterpart funding for youths (8 weeks, weekend course)
*Women in export programme - collaboration with International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva.
*Taking Nigerian exporters to international trade fairs
*Clear definition of who an exporter is - An exporter must be registered with the NEPC. Individuals are not registered as exporters, only limited liability companies (LLCs)/NGOs/Cooperative societies
*NEPC website - Initial amount for registration is N12,000. Yearly renewal of registration is N5,000

Ms. Folashade Aliu, President/CEO of Alpha Digitals Ltd. She is a certified systems engineer who runs a business coaching platform for unemployed/under-employed graduates. Aliu focused on emerging markets. She urged members of the audience to engage social media more constructively. Rather than spend precious time reading gossip on facebook and other sites, the entrepreneur should constantly peruse the websites of the following organisations for useful information - NBS, NPC, EFCC, FMH, NPC, NSE, Embassies & High Commissions, FMF, CBN, NNPC.

It is important to know the following:

*Top 10 rated export items - NBS
*Trading partners who are the buyers in each country
*Consumer price index (CPI). Know how the CPI affects your import business
*GDP - what does it mean to the small business owner?
*How unemployment affects small business
*Focus factors - information/participation/activation/diversification/mobilisation/connection/monetisation/vision & mission/M & E of market/coordinated effort/risk distribution/branding strategies/balancing BBF (
*Credit union or Cooperative union
*Look for opportunities around you that you can turn into a business
*Professional services - legal/business/medical, etc can also be exported

Dr. Mutiullah Olasupo, Senior lecturer, Department of Political Science & International Relations, University of Abuja was more interested in the global dimensions of the issues. He talked about the Dutch disease as the abandonment of traditional trading sectors like agriculture for crude oil. The could be detrimental when oil loses value in the international market. Nigeria is now experiencing this. The mono-cultural nature of the Nigerian economy is a challenge.

The inconsistency of the public policies and indeed the processes to arrive at same could keep the economy at a standstill if it does not retrogress e.g. the various poverty alleviation programmes. According to Olasupo, Nigeria has moved its citizenry from 'abject poverty' to 'exacerbating poverty'. Violent extremism prevents FDI. Besides, the quality of leadership in Nigeria needs to improve.

I could not stay to the end of the symposium because I had other engagements. I therefore missed the speech of Dr. Isatou Touray, Hon. Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration & Employment in the Islamic Republic of Gambia. On the whole, I wish to commend the passion of the convener, Dr. Magnus Kpakol for what he does - continually developing strategies for improving the livelihood of the average human in Nigeria, and indeed Africa. However, the rather inexperienced compere needs to be replaced so that persons in the audience who have germane contributions to bring to the table are allowed to do so in subsequent 'parleys'...

Related Links

*UN Report: 70% of the world lives where inequality has grown
*How to profit from poverty

Saturday 26 August 2017


A high level policy dialogue on the implications of the proposed ascension of Morocco into ECOWAS was held in Abuja on the 24th of August, 2017, under the auspices of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) - Nigeria Office and CDD. There were three sessions:

The implications of the ascension of Morocco to ECOWAS
*Economic considerations
*Security implications
*Foreign policy perspectives

There were participants from the diplomatic corps, civil society, academia, labour unions, etc. I chaired the second session on security. Some of the panelists are:

*Dr. Adewale Aderemi, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, Lagos State University (LASU)
*Comrade Owei Lakemfa, Former NLC Leader & Secretary General, Africa Trade Union
*Comrade John Odah, Immediate past Secretary General of the NLC & Executive Secretary of the Organisation of Trade Unions of West Africa (OTUWA)
*Prof. Nuhu Yaqub, Former Vice Chancellor of both Unversity of Abuja & Sokoto State University.
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Conflict Transformation Specialist, Chartered Mediator/Conciliator, Academic & Chairperson, Board of Directors, National Peace Summit Group (NPSG)
*Amb. Zango Abdu, Retired Diplomat & former Foreign Service Officer
*Amb. Dahiru Suleiman (OFR), Retired Career Diplomat
*Prof Isaac Albert, Professor of African History/Peace & Conflict Studies & Pioneer Director, Institute of Peace & Strategic Studies (IPSS), University of Ibadan (UI)
*Dr. Remi Aiyede, Associate Professor of Public policy, UI
*Amb. M. K. Ibrahim, Retired Nigerian Ambassador, former Chair of the OIC & former Director, Amnesty International (AI), Nigeria
*Prof. S.A. Ibrahim, President, Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA) & former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nasarawa State University, Keffi
*Dr. Jideofor Adibe, Associate Prof. of Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Keffi

The consensus at the meeting was that the admission of Morocco into ECOWAS could be detrimental to ECOWAS, and indeed Nigeria for a number of reasons, some of which are:

1) Morocco is not a West African state
2) Morocco, which is Chair of a similar moribund REC, domiciled in her country, is yet to resuscitate same. Morocco therefore has no business wanting to join a REC outside her domain.
3) Morocco is interested in which West African country would be admitted into the UN Security Council, and her choice is likely to be Senegal, not Nigeria.
4) In 2015 alone, Morocco realised $14.6b from illegally mined phosphate from Western Sahara.
5) If Morocco joins ECOWAS, the latter's protocol on free movement of persons could be threatened. There could be security threats, since many West African, nay African countries are tormented by violent extremism.
6) Entertaining the idea of Morocco joining ECOWAS at all is a failure of Nigeria's foreign policy.
7) If admitted, the turf war between Western Sahara and Morocco could be transported to Nigeria.
8) Nigeria, and indeed West Africa have enough problems already. It is un-necessary to admit Morocco, which could further compound those issues.
9) There are no tangible benefits from Morocco's 'cheque book diplomacy'

On a positive note, participants were of the opinion that the various bilateral agreements/relationships between individual West African states and Morocco should be encouraged

Related Links

*Understanding Morocco's application to join ECOWAS 
*Explained: The significance of the US recognising Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara
*Why the US should re-engage Western Sahara